I. Answer these questions in one or two sentences each.
Question 1 : Where was Abdul Kalam’s house?
Answer : Abdul Kalam’s house was on Mosque Street in Rameswaram. It was a fairly large pucca house made of limestone and brick.
Question 2 : What do you think Dinamani is the name of ? Give a reason for your answer.
Answer : The fact that Abdul Kalam used to read headlines to know about the World War and the fact that he assisted his cousin in collecting newspaper bundles thrown from the train indicate that Dinamani is the name of a daily newspaper.
Question 3 : Who were Abdul Kalam’s school friends? What did they later become?
Answer : Abdul Kalam’s friends were Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindam and Sivaprakashan. One of his friends Ramanadha Sastry became priest in Rameshwaram. Another friend Aravindan went into the business of arranging transport for visiting pilgrims. The third friend Sivaprakasan became a catering contractor for the Southern Railway.
Question 4 : How did Abdul Kalam earn his first wages?
Answer : When stoppage of trains was suspended at Rameswaram because of the World War, his cousin asked him for help in collecting newspaper bundles which were thrown from the moving train. This task helped Abdul Kalam earn his first wages.
Question 5 : Had he earned any more before that? In what way?
Answer : Before the newspaper episode there was suddenly an unusual huge demand of tamarind seeds in the market. Abdul Kalam used to collect tamarind seeds and sell the day’s collection to a provision shop for one anna every day.
II. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 300 words).
Question 1 : How does the author describe : (i) his father, (ii) his mother, (iii) himself?
Answer : The author has described his father as a man practising austerity but giving due care to all needs of his family. He has described his mother as a large-hearted and generous woman who used to feed everyone visiting the household. Abdul Kalam has described himself as a short and thin boy descended from tall and handsome parents.
Question 2 : What characteristics does he say he inherited from his parents?
Answer : He inherited honesty and self-discipline from his father. From his mother , he inherited a sense of kindness and faith in goodness.
III. Discuss these questions in class with your teacher and then write down your answers in two or three paragraphs each.
Question 1 : “On the whole, the small society of Rameswaram was very rigid in terms of the segregation of different social groups,” says the author.
(i) Which social groups does he mention? Were these groups easily identifiable (for example, by the way they dressed)?
(ii) Were they aware only of their differences or did they also naturally share friendships and experiences? (Think of the bedtime stories in Kalam’s house; of who his friends were; and of what used to take place in the pond near his house.)
(iii) The author speaks both types of people who were aware of the differences among different people and those who tried to bridge these differences. Can you identify such people in the text?
(iv) Narrate two incidents that show how differences can be created and also how they can be resolved. How can people change their attitudes?
Answer (i) : Kalam has mentioned Hindus and Muslims as two distinct social groups living in Rameswaram. They had their different dress codes and rituals, e.g. Kalam used to wear a cap while his friend Ramanadha Sastry used to wear the scared thread.
(ii) Kalam has mentioned three childhood friends and all of them had Hindu names, so their friendship is evident. Kalam has also mentioned about bedtime stories from the Ramayana and the life of the Prophet being told by his mother . Moreover, Kalam’s family used to arrange boats from carrying idols of Hindu gods. This explains the natural Hindu-Muslim cooperation in most parts of India. They were aware of their different identities but they were living harmoniously as people do in any normal society.
(iii) The first person mentioned was Ramanadha’s father who was high priest of Rameswaram temple. He after, hearing that the new teacher tried to segregate pupils on the basis of religious divisions, called the teacher and convinced him to revert his decision.
The second person was Sivasubramania Iyer, the science teacher. He invited Kalam to have meal in his house. By this gesture, he was able to change his conservative wife’s mindset.
(iv) The first incident was when differences were created by the new teacher in Kalam’s school who tried to create communal feeling among students. Another incident was when the science teacher’s wife did not want to serve food to Kalam as he was a Muslim boy. In both the indicences, the persons who tried to change the mindsets stood firm on their ground. They talked straight and practised what they preached. This created a change of attitude among people with traditional thinking.
Question 2 (i) Who did Abdul Kalam want to leave Rameswaram?
(ii) What did his father say to this?
(iii) What do you think his words mean? Why do you think he spoke those words?
Answer (i) : Kalam wanted to get a better/higher education which was available in the city. So, he wanted to leave Rameswaram.
(ii) His father encouraged him to leave Rameswaram. He gave Abdul the example of young seagull who leave their parents’ nest to learn to fly.
(iii) The father’s words had a very deep meaning. Unlike human beings, most animals grow on their own after a certain age. This makes them more independent. Even in the plant kingdom, most of the seeds cannot germinate if they are left lying under the mother tree. They get spread by various means and then only they are able to sprout to become a new plant and ultimately a tree.
In humans also, after a certain age, a certain degree of responsibility and independence is always helpful in making a better adult.